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Dinesh Karthik

‘Been a dream to be a part of this team’ – Karthik revels in World Cup call-up

Dinesh Karthik, who on Monday, 15 April, was named in India’s squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, believed he could make it to the playing XI as a specialist batsman after getting a "dream" call-up to India's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup squad.

Karthik was a surprise pick in the 15-man contingent, coming in at the expense of Rishabh Pant to be MS Dhoni's back-up behind the stumps, although Pant has been India’s first-choice wicket-keeper in Test cricket.

"It's definitely a case where we have debated at length and all of us in unison felt that either Rishabh Pant or DK [Karthik] will only come into the playing XI if Mahi [Dhoni] is injured,” MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, had said at the squad announcement.

“If it is a crucial match, like a quarter-final or a semi-final or like an important game, wicket-keeping also matters. So that's the only reason that we went ahead with Dinesh Karthik. Otherwise, Rishabh Pant was almost there."

As a result, Karthik is now set to be a part of his second World Cup, and his first in 12 years, having last played in the 2007 edition in the Caribbean. "I am very excited," he told the Kolkata Knight Riders website. "It has been a dream for me to be a part of this [World Cup] team for a long time now.

“As a team, we have done some special things, and I have been through that journey and I have really wanted to be a part of this team.”

Despite his modest IPL returns so far, Dinesh Karthik's experience is highly valued by team management - AFP
Despite his modest IPL returns so far, Dinesh Karthik's experience is highly valued by team management - AFP

It remains to be seen what role Karthik plays in the World Cup team, though. With Prasad already having said that Karthik was considered as only a back-up option in the event of an injury to Dhoni, it rules out the probability of him donning the gloves. However, he could slot into the middle order, at the No.4 position, for which he will be competing with KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, his state team-mate, and possibly Dhoni.

Karthik himself knows this. "It is as a specialist batsman that I have a better chances of making the XI,” he told Sportstar. “I am capable of batting at No. 4, from where I can build an innings. I have performed the role in the past. I have also been coming later down the order and donned the role of a finisher.”

As a team, we have done some special things, and I have been through that journey and I have really wanted to be a part of this team.

Dinesh Karthik

Despite moderate returns in the 2019 Indian Premier League, where he has 111 runs in seven innings at an average of 18.50, Karthik’s experience is highly valued by the management. The wicket-keeper batsman’s temperament and ability to retain a clear head under pressure has been spoken of highly, especially since his eight-ball 29* in the dramatic finish to the Nidahas Trophy final last year.

"That is exactly what we have discussed," Prasad said. "Under pressure, we have seen Dinesh Karthik finishing matches. That's one reason that scored for him."

India will begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on 5 June.